The 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD is a car we never thought we’d see outside of SEMA. Traditionally conservative Toyota took the largest sedan it sells in America and gave it the full-fat TRD treatment. Nobody was asking for this model, but we’re not complaining that it’s here either. After spending a great deal of time behind the wheel, we’re coming around to thinking that an Avalon TRD isn’t such a bad idea after all. We’re just not sure who’s going to buy it. Toyota went way further than just building a sporty looking Avalon. There are legitimate mechanical improvements to this sedan that make it much more enjoyable to drive. Firmer, fixed dampers are paired with stiffer springs that bring the ride height down 0.6 inch compared to a regular Avalon. Stiffer anti-roll bars and more robust body bracing underneath also add to the chassis’ increased cornering performance. The TRD also gets you Toyota’s Active Cornering Assist technology, which will brake the inside wheel under power in curves so as to reduce understeer. We get lighter 19-inch TRD wheels and larger brakes, but Toyota still uses the same Michelin Primacy all-season rubber. That’s too bad, as the Camry TRD gets sticky summer tires as standard equipment. The Avalon TRD gets the same 3.5-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission that’s found in other Avalon models. It makes 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque and sends power to the front wheels only. A TRD exhaust adds drama, but it's only noise. Inside, the TRD seats get red stitching and microsuede inserts to keep occupants from sliding around. Similar red stitching gets expanded onto the dash, doors, steering wheel and gear lever. Shiny aluminum pedals are highly visible down below, and red-edged TRD floor mats spice things up even more. A TRD will set you back $43,255, which is on the high side of the Avalon trim structure. Only the Touring and Hybrid Limited are more expensive. Ours had a couple options (JBL audio with navigation and illuminated door sills) to round the price out to $45,384. Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I’m going to focus on the lost art of the sedan, which the Avalon illustrated for me during my weekend test driving it. In this crossover crazy environment, it’s easy to forget how good a regular sedan can be. This one is gussied-up in TRD trim, which admittedly makes the sedate Avalon look cooler, handle better and sound louder. But the 301-hp V6 is standard equipment across the board, and the Avalon is stylish even in basic trim. It’s a long car, and the lines on the side add a sense of flow and luxury. For decades, luxury brands defined themselves by their abilities to make good sedans, and there’s reason for that: A demonstrative car that has presence can convey the aspirations of your brand. It’s not what Toyota is really trying to do with the Avalon – that’s more of the purview of Lexus – but it’s still evidence of …
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|MPG||22 City / 32 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||301 @ 6600 rpm|
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